The Case of ACC basketball

Basketball in the South began to develop some muscle shortly after World War II when a traveling shoe salesman named Chuck Taylor told suffering officials at N.C. State about a high school coach in Indiana. N.C. State teams had been playing to half-empty Thompson Gym, and more punishing, both Duke and Carolina had been wiping their feet on the Wolfpack. So, Everett Case arrived in West Raleigh in 1946, and basketball below the Mason-Dixon Line would never be the same again.

With such imports as Dick Dickey, Sammy Ranzino, Norm Sloan and Vic Bubas, N.C. State dominated the Southern Conference to the point of embarrassment. Everybody else was playing for runner-up. The conference tournament had been played in a cozy little auditorium in Raleigh, seating about 3,500. Teams played on a stage to an audience seated theater-style. But once Case arrived, the tournament had to be switched to Duke, same old stone barn that’s now home of the Blue Devils; and work that had been started on what would become Reynolds Coliseum, on the State campus, was rushed to completion.

N.C. State ruled. What Everett Case had done was force the rest of the conference to get with it, or get buried. In 1953, seven schools left the Southern and formed the Atlantic Coast Conference. In effect, Everett Case had changed the face of the South, and while his name is rarely mentioned during this week at the Georgia Dome, look around, and what you see, this place alive with 28,000 highly charged bodies, can be traced to the little man from Indiana, wispy hair, florid complexion, good humor and a taste for living.

His influence is not overlooked in North Carolina. When the state initiated a sports Hall of Fame, Everett Case was the first inductee, and at the time, Jim Sumner, the official historian, wrote that “he [Case] was the most important 20th Century figure in North Carolina sports.” This, of course, was before Dean Smith, Richard Petty and Michael Jordan had checked in with their careers, but to those of us who were there in Case’s time, there is no dispute. Case’s influence spread far beyond the state, and in essence was felt at all stages of college basketball.

This very tournament, closing out here this weekend, I’d dare to say, at one time was the most coveted prize in college basketball. You won the ACC championship, you’d won the toughest prize to be had at the college level. And the man who stirred the pot was Everett Case. He was not the best caretaker of self, and after suffering through various illnesses, he died in 1966, 65 years old, fully lived.

15 comments Add your comment

HBCUALUM

March 14th, 2009
11:16 pm

It is interesting that according to Ol’ Furman, college basketball in North Carolina began with Everett Case. Remember in the mid-1950’s the ACC was segregated. Michael Jordan, Len Bias, Ralph Sampson would not have been allowed to play in the league. However, just down the road in Winston Salem, Clarence “Big House” Gaines was building quite a career in Winston Salem State. Gaines racked up 828 wins and coached among others, Earl “The Pearl” Monroe. I realize that we are all products of the times we were brought up in but c’mon Furman, such a limited understanding basketball pioneers in 1950’s North Carolina such as Big House Gaines is a joke!

Lew Hege

March 15th, 2009
8:10 am

Another excellent column by Mr. Bisher, who as a UNC grad knows the roots of the ACC and basketball in the South. Having seen my first game in Reynolds Coliseum in 1956, having attend Everett Cases’s camp and met him,and having covered the ACC for more than 40 years, Furman is on the mark about Case. (Furman should have included Ronnie Shavlik in his list of great Wolfpackers.) As for the comment by the reader about Clarence Gaines, he is off base. Gaines was a great coach and man, but Earl Monroe’s biggest stage in college was in a game played in Reynolds Coliseum– all thanks to N. C. State — and the man who brought big time basketball to the South.

hop

March 15th, 2009
1:41 pm

as always furman, thanks for setting the record straight about college basketball in north carolina and the south!

Titus

March 15th, 2009
6:24 pm

Furman, once again, thanks for sharing your unique perspective. What a fine article about the ole Grey Fox — grandfather of ACC basketball

richbrave

March 16th, 2009
2:30 pm

Any possibility on getting your take comparing EDDIE MATHEWS’ bat with that of CHIP JONES’? Been waitin’ awhile.

Ken Stallings

March 16th, 2009
9:22 pm

As an NC State alum, I know very much of the Everett Case legacy and influence. Case was abused by the NCAA who claimed he bribed a recruit — a charge Case vehemently denied to his grave. Nevertheless, the NCAA put a severe penalty on NC State using evidence that many considered dubious at best.

Given the subsequent harsh sanction involving David Thompson and then the self-imposed penalties after Valvano, NC State is still suffering and trying to recover the kind of historic role and influence that it once enjoyed.

The reason Case gets short shrift is because of the more recent rise of ESPN and the influence of television on college sports. But if people are fair, then they have no choice but to agree that Case is the father of the ACC and his NC State program made the conference what it remains to this day — the premier basketball conference in the nation.

wxwax

March 17th, 2009
5:00 pm

Thanks for the history lesson. I wasn’t aware of Everett Case or his influence on the ACC. I appreciate it.

Boston Williams

March 17th, 2009
5:47 pm

In Rivals most recent ranking of top combined FB and BskB programs, only UNC (6th) and FSU (9th) from the ACC were ranked in the TOP TEN of Helmets and Hoops (combined). The SEC had none.
SEC=FB Only

fk austin

April 2nd, 2009
1:42 pm

Do you have the still pictures of the Darwin Holt – Chick Granning incident?

Allen Tothill

April 2nd, 2009
5:20 pm

Furman, thank you so much for writing the article about Coach Case. I grew up in Winston- Salem when Bones McKinney coached Wake Forest. I was a student at NCSU when coach Case was still there. My wife and I live in Atlanta now, we read your article aloud while having breakfast this morning. You reminded us of the great times we had in Reynolds Coliseum watching Wolfpack basketball! Thank you for bringing back these great memories, and for reminding us of the great tradition Coach Case established at NCSU, and his legacy in founding the modern day ACC. Best regards, Allen Tothill, NCSU class of ’65.

wreckmaniac

April 10th, 2009
4:38 pm

As a Georgia native and Tech grad, I spent the 70’s and 80’s in North Carolina. You don’t know what the college game is until you live there.
I heard it pretty much as Mr Bisher reported it here. Case was the pioneer. You’ve never seen a conference as great as the ACC was when
Dean Smith, Lefty Drisell, Norm Sloan, Terry Holland, Bill Foster were all coaching there at the same time. It was a golden era.

Test

June 18th, 2009
10:28 pm

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Test1

June 18th, 2009
10:29 pm

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Mike Mooney

June 30th, 2009
7:43 pm

Can I beat up a girl here?

Navigator

August 5th, 2009
7:42 am

Furman, you sometimes touch my heart with your recollections, and your right at Coach Case. We also lose sight in the ACC, that it was Duke or North Carolina that started the basketball fever, but was N. C. State. That fact has been a thorn at Carolina for so many decades that festered finally when Norm Sloan’s team went undefeated and won the National Championship, and of course the press gave the coach of the year honors to Dean Smith (NC was 18-8). I’m afraid that shame will live in state’s infamy forever.